The Senses in Play Part III: Edutainment and Militainment Writing Reflection No. 6

16 Mar

Virtual reality is a concept that modern civilization has embraced with such openness that for some it replaces live as we know it and consumes them. However, concepts of gaming and augmented reality are utilized for other purposes or means. The readings of this past week’s subject have introduced the different functions gaming utilizes in society ranging from subjects of education, military training and utilization of simulated actions. The creation of a virtual reality certainly constructs a mix of scenarios produced depending on the user that is consuming the material which can be either good or bad for the individual depending on the abuse of such a product. However,  it was not until I read the content of some of these readings which I fully comprehended a more complete idea of the significance some of these games represent to established institutions in society.

The reading, “Digital Games for Education: When Meanings Play” focused on the game Contagion which submerges the gamer into the society “Pyramidea” on the brink of a deadly epidemic which engages ideas of game design, player communities  and individual players as modes of research through the progression of game play. The game starts off with lower class citizens being the first of those infected and explaining the idea of ignorance being a significant cause for the disease which is an adaptation to what we as a society often experience in certain circumstances. The game utilizes its players (ages 10-15) to recognize four diseases and levels of caution handled which each which also educates audiences on the idea of an epidemic being unsustainable. This was the first game to really challenge the concept of education means to us as well as explaining how games embed all forms of educational information into different aspects of the digital environment.  However, much like so many other games, issues of gender stereotypes were reinforced with graphic imagery and artwork and was only later made more subtle with the addition to a cartoon style to the imagery of characters.

Being someone who has never played this particular game I can not recognize the different elements of educational value the developers tried to implement however I have played a few games with similar concepts which seem to follow the same blueprint in which I feel is suppose to be a reflection for modern day society if such a phenomena was to occur. It is a clever way to reach the general population with such topics of educational significance to the state as whole by synchronizing it in what simple pleasures we use daily without notice. These means of teaching and learning can be extremely effective as they are not viewed in the means of an education but of recreational activity in which the unconscious psyche can store information that may be relevant in other circumstances  at a later time. This makes education more of an enjoyment as oppose to a chore we are obliged to comprehend to help make us a more contributing citizen to society.

“Full Spectrum Dominance” explains the ultimate aspiration of U.S. military forces is accomplishing missions directed by the National Command Authorities which is achieved through this sense of Full Spectrum Dominance which is the ability for the U.S. forces to operate in correlation with mutli-national or inter-agency partners in means of defeating and controlling all adversary as well and sustaining military surveillance. These missions of ‘Dominance’ involve conflict by deploying armed forces or weapons of mass destruction, wars or regional conflicts, peace keeping, presence activity, support towards domestic authorities and humanitarian operations. Such a drastic advance of military action tells us that the nation-state of the U.S. can conduct military activity in a variations of ways without restrictions through domain s of different states and environmental conditions as well as sea or air. This level of military control comes at the price of casualties but leaves space for joint forces to evolve into more flexible participants and military activity who can adapt to different surroundings easily as well as new technologies and paces of change.

One of these ways through developing such individuals capable of carrying out these operations is through military simulation programs constructed by the ICT (Institute Creative Technologies) to help trainees go through the motions of real situations and prepare them for modes of combat . Although this lacks certain aspects of realism through participants  not receiving any means of bodily consequence of specific actions or interaction of the gaming environment, the program engages senses of combat training that can make the difference between life and death.

The idea of ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’ is a notion that has gone through several steps of evolution to help further greater the chances of power states such as the U.S. to instill positions of power over weaker states. In relation to military trainee programs, we have seen ideas of combat associated in various forms of the latest games which education individuals on common issued weapons used by groups of the governments armed forces. Once again, this relates to the previous article of embedding such knowledge for the greater cause of the state in means of molding tomorrows military personnel. These are just different methods in orchestrating the production of full spectrum to take effect and ensure this  powerful force in the future to come. We see younger children knowing information such as the names of all the common automatic firearms we see globally yet can not recite a verse from Shakespeare; it simply has to do with what the government has on their agenda and more importantly the military has design for such an establish state which thrives through militaristic order.

The last article, “Mobilizing Affect'” deals with the novel, “Ender’s Game” which details the tale of a young boy who trains for a mass war against a bug species threatening to extinct the human race. Through this simulated training program he virtually destroys the entire bug race at the cost of loosing some of his comrades, but his chief commander later explains that his simulation was actually the war itself at which he had been in a few years which was replaced with a command structure which  let the war actually occur. Earth’s commanders needed Ender to believe he was in a simulated version of the war to help carry out such extensive limits of his physical capabilities without exploiting himself to the reality of the situation nor his fears of the enemy. The novel describe the ideology of substituting virtual with actual reality in a means of progressing further than what an individual may do in a realistic setting. The suppression of emotion through simulation is the main focus of such a virtual reality to get someone to commit actions such as extreme violence which may be outside of the person’s common ability if were real.

Grand Theft Auto is a perfect example of this as the game embraces several forms of criminal activity into common habits of a lifestyle which many of the average gamers who play this would never be willing to do for personal enjoyment.  Many of us do not realize that many of the common situations being exploited in a video game are realistic occurrences that many people struggle to overcome yet it is through this simulated world that we find ourselves acting in the most exaggerated terms that is no where near in relation to our actual personality. Would you really be willing to bash someone’s face in with a wooden bat over their car just because you need to meet with someone to receive a task to do as oppose to just taking public transit which is free of a serious offence or any form of suppression from local law enforcement?


Response #2 “Redefining what it is to be human” by Sabmunir

16 Mar

Sabmunir speaks complete truth about self-fascination we as the human race have with ourselves in which we express through various mediums. It was one of those realizations that I did not really come into grasp with until Sabmunir put it into words but one that has been very evident throughout history as we as humans often marvel at what are species is and has been capable of and trying to imitate our lively hood through other means of life such as artificial intelligence. 

It was an significant statement to proclaim that the purpose to ‘humanoids’ is to surpass the one demise of mortality which is time and produce more developed traits we as humans display yet I also believe this is an effort to help better assist us as a race by developing an artificial imitation of our lives as the most dominant species thus known. It is a display that we as humans can bring life as the modern ‘God’ of today’s world and bring existence to a new type of being that may walk with us and co-exist to man kind’s best collective interest in mind. When thinking of this concept I almost feel relation to the film, “IRobot” which essentially showed machines to be walking imitations of life that were created for the soul purpose of serving man by what ever means necessary. Of course with this idea of of creating a new form of life and the effort to control it comes the danger of one day being overpowered by such a potential force to exceed us in every shape and form possible and for those beings to turn on us. 

The idea of emotion is one that Sabmunir touches on and I highly agree upon because without such an ability there will always be a difference between both beings and thus will appropriate different actions and responses to certain situations. emotion in its self is such a complicated mindset and reaches on a variation of levels and uniqueness which although it can be imitated, can not be taught nor technologically embedded into something which is not born with such a trait. We as humans carry this gift and curse and are unable to transfer such a dense mental state to another who is not human. The extinction of the human race is the day that the extinction of emotion shall occur. 

Sabmunir believes and hopes that the robotic nation will not surpass as but I can not entirely agree because such a statement is open ended at a time like this. I believe it all depends with what resources we leave for such a race to develop themselves as individuals beings to survive and function independently. More so, the biggest question is if whether or not someone will one day grace the race of machine with a mind for ones self. If such a species can do so, there is no telling what is possible and what can occur in our near future and how fast such an issue can progress. 

#1 Response to “Beyond Illusions!” By: Lady Ambiguity

15 Mar

Tackling the idea and concept behind illusions was an interesting perspective from Priya as she detailed her fascination and view on what illusions may be perceived in the eyes of others. I thought it was perfect wording on describing the aspect of an illusion being something created by those who, “Make the best of best worlds internally and externally”. I never thought to bring into consideration of illusions being embedded into other concepts such as artwork which I felt covered a category of illusions that can pose much significance in recognizing an illusion for what it may represent which is, “Not everything is what it seems”.

To many of the us, illusions can be something that is unconsciously dismissed to the naked eye and either takes further, concentrated effort to examine such a optical masterpiece or a trained eye that is accustomed to seeing what others can not at first glance. I feel as though illusions are an optical exercise for the eye to strengthen an individuals visual capabilities on different levels. With this said, it is evident illusions range anywhere from minor to drastic changing visuals and can be seen in a multitude of ways depending on what the illusion is trying to convey. What interests me is what specifically such an illusion offers is the purpose for its function and utilization such as an act of entertainment, protection, education, research, deception and testing because most illusions take a considerable amount of time to construct and idealize regardless of how subtle in may be; so what reason is it that gets the illusionist to invest time and energy in something that is actually not there?

Priya also did an excellent job in including an engaging ideology by Laura Marks known as “Haptic visuality” implying this idea of viewing the world and the surroundings of it as if someone was touching it. This was something I found interesting as an ability for someone to decode unnatural images detected by the average eye to comprehend the image in a different sense. 

This idea that Laura Marks introduces to us sort of suggests almost that our eyes and constructed vision almost contains a sixth-sense to determine what is irregular or “out of place” from what is regular viewed in everyday life. Such a sense is one I believe is so complex and could not even imagine the science and technical explanation behind such an ability we as humans take for granted in our lives and do not even realize such a blessed gift many of us possess.   

Addiction (Reflection No.6)

6 Mar

The topic of, “Addiction” was the prime concept utilized in this weeks readings as it discussed several forms of addiction including online-gaming, internet usage and gambling. All of these forms of addiction are considered unorthodox modes of addiction as traditional forms often included alcohol and drug abuse. These forms of addiction typical are in sync with a persons behavior and trigger people in different levels.
In the reading of, ‘Video Game Junkie” Ryan Van Cleave struggles with an addiction to a game called , “World of Warcraft” which he refers to as being the, “Digital crack”. This is not the first of addictive behaviors being explored as there are such people addicted to other forms such as excessive eating, sex, exercise  love and work. The Annual Review of Psychology defines addictive behavior as, “Repetitive habit pattern that increases risk of disease or associated personal and social problems. Addictive behaviors are often experienced subjectively as ‘loss of control’- The behavior continues to occur even in attempts to moderate usage. These habits are characterized as instant gratification (short term reward) and attempts to change this addictive behavior result in high relapse rates”. Such behavior is said to have six components in verifying addictive personality in salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, conflict and relapse.
After reading briefly the struggles Ryan was going through all in the sake of a game, I could not believe the extent of some peoples addiction and what it will drive them to do. Being someone who personally has experienced the game of World Of Warcraft I can certainly understand why some people find the game to be so addictive as it does have such intuitive aspects to really enjoy that no other video game simply offers. I can recall countless evenings playing the game and other games with similar concepts for drastic periods of time, but was always able to pull myself away from the virtual world when other interests came into mind. I feel like there must be an internal sense which is stimulated when performing these potentially addictive activities which is later hardwired into our brain to remain in rotating with our conscious interests.
Kimberly Young’s, “Internet Addiction” explored the activity of general on-line interaction whether it be chat rooms, social websites or online dating. The article explains the contrast from non-dependents as viewing the internet simply as a tool and medium for communication and business orientated tasks while dependents have evolved from this discovery to relentless hours of social interaction and repetitive on-line searches. People who focused their dependency on the internet found negative affects in relation to academics, relationships, financial, occupation and health. In contrast, non-dependent users did not experience any prolonged affects beside cases of poor time management after loosing track of the duration spent on-line.
With the internet becoming such a vast and incorporating element in the majority of our lives today, I feel many people unconsciously are aware of their addictive habits to be constantly synced into the online-realm in some way,shape or form. For instance, we have just recently seen the great out burst of the smartphone revolution to occur over the past five or so years take into effect. People these days are so glued to their phones that they cannot function without it as it is the new way to stay connected while on the go. Just yesterday I counted an outstanding twenty-five Iphones, thirty-two android devices, and eighteen blackberry devices all from my commute to and back to school which is not including my time spent at school. Being someone who works for the third largest telecommunications company in North America (Rogers) I often see on a daily basis the amount of people who are so hopelessly dependent on what the world of the web can do for us and take it as their top priority. I am by no means considering myself a saint or that I do not use the internet (which I avidly do in forms of academics, personal interests, communication, modes of productivity and access to information in learning) because in today’s reality everyone will inevitably be faced to confront this virtual world that has saturated itself in society more than many us even are aware of. My own family is one group who find themselves so dependent on the internet that I am almost afraid to see what may happen if there was a blackout for an extended period of time. From online gaming, YouTube, tablet usage, on-line chat, you name it and my family has almost covered every element of the average consumer. Even this course is using an online source to help conduct the viewing ability for everyone on this blog and for those that may not be familiar with how the internet works, an opportunity like this opens the door for more people to explore and recognize the internet for what it is.
Schull’s reading focused specifically on the topic of gambling which is associated with many social problems in the modern world such as occupational loss, debt accumulation, bankruptcy  divorce, poor health, incarceration and highest rate of suicide attempts. What makes gambling so difficult to combat is the fact that there is no single form of gambling, as it takes several sets of techniques, routines, mind-frames and levels of skill. Many people who are exposed to this form of addiction often get themselves in trouble much deeper and faster than they anticipate which is where problems begin to occur.
This is personally a form of addiction I could never see myself a victim to as I hate loosing my money to anything and have such a desire to keep every dollar I can by any means! However that sense of, “Thrill” or chance that you can come up big that all someone needs is, “Just one more shot at it”. The idea that someone has no sense of control just to tell themselves to stop and not resort back to the habit is easier said than done for some which those of us who are fortunate not to experience a severe case of addiction may never come to understand. This struggle is one that crosses all platforms of addiction and abuse of a behavioral pattern I feel and sometimes it may take the most extreme circumstance for someone to break that certain habit.

Sensory Power Plays Part III (Written Reflection No. 5)

27 Feb

This weeks readings focused on a number of different areas of physical activity that all contribute to the idea of what our body goes through to perform these every day activities for some of us.

“Intimate Immensity” focused on a specific discipline of yoga practiced in Australia called, Satyananda which is a compilation of different traditional Indian yoga techniques. The main focus of this craft is to stimulate various states of solidity, steadiness, stillness, grounding, balance, movement  flow, release, openness and expansion. This art emphasizes the spatial relations through embodied practices to help evolve the self while using the living body of movement to construct entire scenarios of place. This form of yoga is also meant to refine and raise a sense of consciousness to one’s surroundings. This discipline of yoga follows the tradition of guru passing down to disciple the sense of knowledge of the art through the initiation of Sannyasa which is considered a path of self-knowledge and service. The reading utilizes to different modes of embodiment through Drew Leder’s Ecstasis and Dys-Appearance. Ecstasis is “A mode of habitual & instructional engagement with the world, in which a person acts outward from his\her body to object tasks”. Dys-Appearance is “The living body confronted with pain\illness, rendering it thematic as well as unfamiliar task to one’s body schema”.

Being someone who has experienced different forms of yoga, I can certainly comprehend the peace and tranquility the act of yoga has on the body to help create forms of balance and relaxation of the body. Having a mother who is very fluid in forms of traditional and hot yoga have helped me relate and draw back from experience in relation to what I was reading in this specific content. What made me distinguish this form of yoga was the emphasis on consciousness and space as key factors. I knew that these were factors affiliated in classes I took in yoga prior but I never felt they were as much emphasized as I had read in this Article. From the sounds of it this form of yoga is more of a form of grounding you to your body and its surroundings which in turn should help stimulate a mindset of wholeness and organic movement in the methods the art form executes.

“Athletic Intruders” was short and brief, however it gave a general outline on the key points the book as a whole was trying to reach. The main subject of women participating in activities of sports and exercise from a, “Socio-cultural vantage provided by the fields of anthropology in sports as well as the sociology of sports & feminism”. This research is conduct for emerging sports which women partake in as well as the gender relations exemplified in these different activities. The title of this book, “suggests that women have not been able to participate in sports and activities without struggle marked by male hegemony”.  The article states that through this, women have become invisible, excluded and marginalized and that the first emergence of women’s participation in sports began in the 1970’s from feminism acts in the 1960’s. The reading also touched on Ann Hall’s discussed values of Interpretive research with non-positivist thrust and situated analysis with regard to the, “importance of history”. With these two values being stated the reading goes on to state a third value that was born from anthropology, yet adopted from other disciplines and emerging in sports studies, ” Interpretive analysis based on the qualitative methodology of ethnography”.

This reading touched lightly I felt on a bigger area of women’s efforts to eliminate gender domination that plays favorites to those who are seen as more physically capable by society. I have always felt on a personal level that women do not get the respect they deserve for all the adversity they have been through to achieving their right to play on equal terms as us men. Being someone of the male gender and who is someone who is avid in the sport of basketball, I find myself watching a fair share of women’s basketball games not because I feel obliged to, but because I have an appreciation for someone who can play the game well regardless of what society has placed in terms of gender roles. There are several female athletes in the modern world of today who can easily surpass many of us average men  because they have put the time and effort in and are relentlessly dedicated to perfecting themselves as physical specimens of a certain sport\activity.

“Seeing with Sideway Glance” was the last reading which touched on the Brazilian martial art and dance of Capoeira. The reading in general introduced the idea of bodily knowledge not being any other regular integrated skill set in our brain and questioned the reader on how the body can come to know. The martial art discussed in the reading focused on the ability to look in various techniques by, “Always watching everyone and paying attention to your surroundings”. The reading suggested that basic forms of vision such as focal could only see one thing at a time yet peripheral could see several. The idea of, “Sideways Glance” shapes knowledge and filters out extraneous information. This method of seeing distinctively scans patterns of rapid eye movements yet not focusing on the face or eye itself. This notion of Sideways Glance suggests that peripheral vision is only way to see everything at once and is more sensitive to sudden movements which has been proven in professional studies as well as used by athletes in various sports such as soccer.

I thought the idea of  the way we view and perceive  things when performing in a physical activity is one that has not placed much attention and in general do not consciously think nor train such senses as peripheral vision to be used to our advantage. Often it is a neglected sense which can be used for more than the average person knows it can see and help them. We are often deceived by what only our front vision which can clearly see things as being our only sense of seeing when there are different modes of visions that can excel in various circumstances. I feel that general ignorance prohibits many from realizing this until we are shown otherwise and until we break free of what general forms of seeing and execution of movement we have been taught to complete, we will never see the bigger picture like so many others do.

If You Had to Give Up One Sense Which One Would it be?

28 Nov

Before giving my answer to the question, I want to say after reading this weeks article I feel that for some of us fortunate enough to have all of our senses fully functionable we often take these gifts for granted. However, I also feel that for those who lack a sense can view this as a blessing in disguise for the fact that it can strengthen the other senses to a point that very few individuals ever experience. My perception of those individuals who have a sense less than the rest of us are actually stronger individuals and can experience life in a completely different paradigm. I truely felt appreciation and gratification for simply having all my sense and enjoying the simple privelages they provide to the point where most of us probably don’t take a second or two to give our body the recognition it deserves.
Now with that said and making it clear that I value all my senses and would never in real life wish to be without one of my senses willingly, its time to answer the question. After careful consideration and thinking what it would be like without every one of the sense individually, I would say I would give up my odoratus sense (sense of smell). The reason being my nose is often congested because I have owned a cat for eighteen years of my life and am actually allergic to cats! Although my sense of smell is still there the, I go through periods where my nose is stuffy for days at a time and can’t smell anything what so ever. The one thing I will admit to worrying about is how the sense can alert you in the presence of danger such as smelling smoke if theres a fire near by or if food has gone bad. Without this sense, I feel like there is much danger that I may be left vunerable to and would have to adapt in strengthen my senses in regards to perceiving the safety of my surroundings. I also feel it might be negative to the point if you can not smell yourself to know if you yourself smell of a bad odor so you could take a shower asap! You could go all day smelling like an onion but you would never know until someone told you! On the upside I would no longer have to put up with smelling unpleasant odors or those who put too much perfume or colognes that burn the nostrils when you inhale with your nose! I feel like with the active life I live always on the go that me willingly taking away any of the other senses would alter my life to greatly for me to continue to live and pursue my life long aspirations. At least with smell I can somewhat function without altering my life too greatly to the standards I wish to live it.

Reflection No. 4 (Food and the Senses)

13 Nov

Reading Blog No. 4 (Food and the Senses)

The reflection I am doing this week is based on a Youtube video on a past Food Network program based on the making of ‘New Orleans french toast’. The video detailed how the chef on the cooking show had a personal connection with the french toast at a young age with her family and later gained new apprecition for the dish when moving to New Orleans with a slighty modified recipe to the dish.
Although this is not fully related to what this weeks corresponding article stated about families having tendencies for preserving older recipes, it does relate into the idea of a culture of society preserving a food that distinguishes them through culinary means. I find often that certain foods hold specific values based on the culture they are consumed by. Whether a certain meal can be seen in a spiritual sense within the institution of religeon to perform a ritual, seen as a popular dish among that culture alone, decrypted in means of social class in the highs or lows of society. Essentialy a specific food or meal prepared in a certain way can appeal in a variation of ways to multiple cultures as oppose to if it was prepared differently. This also touches on the idea of Douglas and the example made of differing a Sunday pudding from a holiday pudding; although they may be almost identically the same concept of a meal prepared, they hold different meaning and value based on the occassion. I found that Douglas’s focus on the social identity of food really connected with how the chef introduced the topic of the recipe she was going to prepare.
With this program, I found the show focused less on the duration it took to prep the ingrediants such as the dicing of strawberries by fast fowarding or cutting scenes entirely and instead replacing this with a series of close to medium shots in different angles of the cutting of the berry. I presume this is in the idea to give the strawberry and overall meal a more visually stimulating experience to the senses of sight to be enjoyed by the view and to be able to recognize different textures associated with then foods. I found that the display of this process regardless if it was edited in a way to cut out much of the time proccess associated with the prep work made me mentally salivate to the images I caught. This is essentially the purpose to these cooking shows I find is to get you in that mental state where you can feel yourself drooling for the food and crave until you have to go and get it to surpress this urge of the senses.
One thing I found somewhat perculiar in the show was when the chef put a slab of butter on the grill before cooking and said, “I love the smell of butter!”. This statement from the chef made me realize that essentially one of the most signifcant senses of food consumption (scent) was completely voided in this whole sensorium experience much like taste. Instead, scent is substituted with a verbal consent of this sense which lacks much through food programming as well as taste. Because we are not there to experience the consumption of food we instead rely on the consumers reactions to give us an idea of the sensorium experience the food stimulates. In other words, food programming is a way to experience sensory methods throug other peoples experiences and not our own but in turn lacks certain senses from be active in the process. We can not smell the french toast therefore we rely on others to smell it form us and taste it for us as well. This guys against the idea of the article in which it states that food odors are strong markers from sensory properties.
Overall, I found a mixed field of similarities and differences between not only food programming and the article for this week but as well with the general consumption experince of food in respect to the senses. I found that watching one of these programs is much less interactive and engaging than the actual activity of consuming food and rather manipulates the act.